Chris Tinsley - CanCare Hospital Volunteer of the Year

Date Posted: 9/19/2011

Around the time she joined St. Paul’s UMC Houston, Chris Tinsley heard John Miner speak on Cancer Survivor Sunday about his role as a CanCare volunteer. Also a cancer survivor, she thought, “I can do that.” Through a network of more than 600 highly trained volunteers representing 75 different types of cancer, CanCare offers

emotional support to cancer patients and their families.


CanCare volunteers act as mentors to patients during their treatment and work with family members to provide encouragement and hope. CanCare partners with 134 corporations, hospitals, and congregations.


A retired teacher for the deaf, Tinsley has become such an active CanCare hospital  volunteer that she recently was honored by the organization as Hospital Volunteer of the Year. To know Chris is to know her enthusiasm for CanCare and the hospital visits she conducts. Every Monday morning she calls CanCare from two or three patients’ hospital rooms to connect them to the CanCare office.


Drawing from her volunteer experience at The Methodist Hospital, she helped write CanCare’s Hospital Volunteer Visitation Techniques publication in 2010. To be a CanCare volunteer, one must either be a cancer survivor or have been the caregiver/ family member of a cancer survivor.


“CanCare volunteers go through extensive training to learn how to help others with their diagnosis,” said Kim Akel, CanCare’s Director of Program Services. “Our volunteers are trained to listen for concerns and share their own experiences with the individual they are helping, without imposing personal ideas or beliefs. Our

goal is to match the patient to one of our volunteers who has the closest cancer experience to them.” Age and gender also are considered. “The best part about the match,” continued Akel, “is that the patient gets to know someone personally who has been through the same frightening experience. Just knowing someone who beat your type of cancer is encouraging. It’s like having your own personal reference to talk to whenever you want.”


Tinsley is a three-time cancer survivor — twice breast cancer and once a melanoma under a toe. Indicative of her spirit and spunk, a week after the melanoma was removed from under her toe, she played golf — and gave her opponent “a run for her money.” The next CanCare volunteer training classes will be October 14-16. To find out more about the CanCare organization and the various ways to volunteer, call 713-461-0028 or visit